The effectiveness of the South African Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 in adressing the past inequalitities in the workplace
Marumoagae, Motseotsile Clement
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Aim of the Study: The main aim of this study is to investigate and analyse the impact of labour and industrial legislative and policy frameworks on the marginalized groups in South Africa, particularly black people. This study aims to critically evaluate and examine the role played by the employment equity legislation and policy framework in addressing the effects of labour and industrial injustices and inequalities among the workers in South Africa, in order to make recommendations regarding the challenges and opportunities facing the various workplaces in South Africa. This study is based on the premise that the policies and legislation relating to employment equity in South Africa are better placed to eradicate the inequalities in the workplace and also to deal decisively with past injustices. Research Methodology: This study constitutes an academic discussion and a critical analysis of the past inequalities experienced in the workplace and how the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 (EEA) is addressing them. A literature survey of the most important sources dealing with history, cases, legislation and policy documents was undertaken. Conclusion and Recommendations: In South Africa, colonialism and its policy of segregation were designed to relegate black people to "second class" citizens who were not worthy of any basic rights, in particular the right to fair labour practice. During apartheid, racially repressive legislation which undermined the economic position of black people was introduced. As a result, black people were effectively forced into the "cheap labour" category and they were only able to be employed in unskilled job categories. Majority of black people were impoverished and could not derive material economic advantages from their labour. On the other hand, the apartheid government laid a platform that ensured social and economic well-being for white people and disregarded that of black people. Black workers, the overwhelming majority of South Africa's working class, suffered from super-exploitation that was directly related to their racial oppression. One of the most fundamental right that was denied to blacks was the right to good quality of education that would have enabled them to compete in the labour market. Black people generally struggled to compete because of poor educational levels associated with inferior apartheid education. In the late 1980s and the early 1990s, South Africa was in a period of transition from apartheid to democracy. During this period the apartheid government started to negotiate with the liberation movements in South Africa, such as the African National Congress (ANC), the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC). The negotiations produced the first democratic Constitution in South Africa. Section 9 of the 1996 Constitution advocates for the adoption of affirmative action measures and it also orders the enactment of national legislation which will prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination. As a result, the EEA was promulgated. The EEA aims to ensure that those who were denied opportunities during the oppressive regimes in South Africa are now afforded equal opportunities in employment and various workplaces through a policy of affirmative action. It is desirable that the South African labour market reflect the demographics of the entire South African society in various workplaces. In order to achieve this goal, the South African government must put measures in place in order to educate employees, prospective employees and employers about the importance of the measures advocated by the EEA. In order to achieve employment equity especially in managerial positions in various workplaces and in order to eradicate inequalities of the past, there must be well co-ordinated, effective and formulated skills development and training programmes. It is also important that any affirmative action programme has to be accompanied by a process of human resource development to offset the problem of quality.
- Law